A monumental work of nonfiction on a wartime atrocity, its 60-year denial, and the impact of its truth.
Jan Gross' hugely controversial Neighbors was a historian's disclosure of the events in the small Polish town of Jedwabne on July 10, 1941, when the citizens rounded up the Jewish population and burned them alive in a barn. The massacre was a shocking secret that had been suppressed for more than 60 years, and it provoked the most important public debate in Poland since 1989.
From the outset Anna Bikont reported on the town, combing through archives and interviewing residents who had survived the war period. Her writing became a crucial part of the debate and she herself an actor in a national drama.
Part history, part memoir, The Crime and the Silence is the journalist's account of these events: both the story of the massacre, told through oral histories of survivors and witnesses, and a portrait of a Polish town coming to terms with its dark past. Including the perspectives of both heroes and perpetrators, Bikont chronicles the sources of the hatred that exploded against Jews and asks what myths grow on hidden memories, what destruction they cause, and what happens to a society that refuses to accept a horrific truth.
A profoundly moving exploration of being Jewish in modern Poland that Julian Barnes called "one of the most chilling books", The Crime and the Silence is a vital contribution to Holocaust history and a fascinating story of a town coming to terms with its dark past.
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So bad I stopped listening
I couldn't figure out when things were happening. The narrative kept jumping back and forth like the author couldn't decide how to organize the story.
I would be willing to listen to another of Stifel's performances. He wasn't the best narrator ever, but he was pretty good.
I really wanted to like this book and was looking forward to listening to it. I almost never quit on a book, but after 3 hours, I stopped listening. I couldn't follow what was going on or when things were happening. I think the book would have been better without all of the jumping back and forth in time.